The premise of the Lion Theatre Company’s first production of the new term was to join Alice as she got Lost in Wonderland, around Hatfield College, without need for hallucinogens or Disney animation. What they used instead was dance, drama, poetry, music, and simple but effective lighting and staging devices, as well as the theatrical potential of the college buildings, in a way which might have made Lewis Carroll proud and showed Tim Burton how to do Alice on a budget.
Six directors were each given a scene from the story to create in an intense one-week period, working with a cast selected by the Lion Theatre Company, but left to interpret the scene in their own individual way, with producer Lucy Wardlaw-O’Brien keeping a logistical eye on proceedings. This first edition of the Hatfield Arts Festival sprang from a germ of an idea last year, which Festival Managers Ben Weaver-Hincks and Felix Stevenson decided to spearhead in order to promote the company. The main aims were to spread the word about the Lion Theatre Company, which has been up until now one of the smaller college theatre companies, and to increase participation in the society by opening up the festival to musicians, dancers and artists, as well as actors, directors and producers.
The chapel was the perfect setting for a modern dance version of the fateful fall down the rabbit hole, the SCR dining room was taken over by the Mad Hatter and his exuberant tea party (which the audience were invited to partake in, and only the most strong-willed resisted the cakes, tempting biscuits and fancies offered to them by the actors/hosts) and the underground storage room, which is a daunting, damp and dingy place at the best of times, was filled with an eerie rendition of the Jabberwocky by the Tweedle twins.
The intensive rehearsals and the coordination of forty cast and crew members drawn from the college and university as a whole served to draw in larger-than expected audience numbers, who obediently followed the white rabbit around the scenes, and who might otherwise have got rather lost in a cleverly-created Wonderland which transformed various parts of the college for the afternoon.